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Jonny Craig: Slave To The Game

Jonny Craig

Forever prolific, forever controversial, Jonny Craig has been in and out of music news headlines (and rehab) more than his fair share, but it’s clear this “white boy with soul” ain’t stopping just yet. With the man currently on tour across Australia, we set out to do a little Jonny Craig Mythbusting.

To start us off, I want to try a little game we call “Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction”, so I’m going to read you some info from the Jonny Craig Wikipedia page and I want you to tell me whether they’re true, false, or partly true, and if there’s a story behind them maybe you can elaborate a little for us.

i) There is no explanation for the band name Dance Gavin Dance.
That’s true. It was just a random name, we had some other names that we were using but one of them was already taken, and we came back to Dance Gavin Dance because we just wanted to play music, we didn’t really care about the name.

ii) Your vocal range would be considered to be a Baritenor.
Erh, I dunno, I guess I’d say that’s true.

vii) You consider Christina Aguilera to be a big influence on your style.
I’m gonna have to say negative on that one. I’m not sure where that came from. I wouldn’t personally call her an influence. I think she’s a good singer, but I don’t think our styles are similar.

iii) You were kicked out of your school choir in high school.
Yeah, that’s true. There’s not much of a story, I just goofed around too much. They asked me to leave every day because I wasn’t paying attention.

iv) That ties in well to the next one: You took Ritalin for ADHD when you were a kid.
Yeah, I took it all the way through grade school and high school.

v) You are currently on good terms with the members of Dance Gavin Dance.
Yeah, we hang out as much as we can when we’re both in town and not on tour playing music, when our time schedules allow.

vi) Your first band was, in your mind, just something fun to help you pay for weed.
Well it wasn’t my first band actually, it was a side project while I was in my first band, we only had three songs but yeah that’s what we did, we’d play a show on the weekend and then go and smoke up [laughs].

viii) In 2011 you were planning to film a documentary.
Nope, I don’t know anything about that. I think someone maybe might have got a little confused, I was sort of writing a book, kind of an autobiography, but I’m not filming anything and whatever I end up making from that, it’s not gonna be public.

ix) In 2011 you came very close to quitting music entirely because you felt the music world no longer held anything for you.
Yeah, I think it had a lot to do with the drug use and stuff. I was getting a little frustrated with myself and I think that’s where it came from.

There certainly seems to be a lot of rumours out there about you. What’s the strangest one you’ve heard?
I dunno man, a lot of people apparently think I’m a dick, but I don’t think I’m a dick! It’s not really a weird rumour, but it’s definitely a common one. But yeah I don’t think I’m an asshole or anything, especially not in person!

You do seem to have some pretty intense fans though. Have you ever had any strange encounters or requests from your fans?
The only one would be at a show when a chick came up to me at the merch table and asked if I could give her some of my semen, and I was like… err, I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

There are a lot of Jonny Craig-related Facebook fan pages, have you heard about any of those?
Well I think there’s a Twitter account for my penis, but I don’t know about the Facebook forums.

I’m gonna give you a list of some Facebook pages about you, and I want you to guess which one of them doesn’t really exist:

  • Dumping your boyfriend because he’s not Jonny Craig
  • Fanpage for Jonny Craig’s Mullet
  • To Write Jonny Craig On Her Arms
  • Getting an erection when you hear Jonny Craig’s voice
  • If you say Jonny Craig’s name three times in the mirror in a dark bathroom he’ll come to your house and steal your Macbook.

Hmm, I think I’m gonna go with the MacBook one.

You are correct, that wasn’t a Facebook page, it was actually a comment someone made on YouTube. Moving on to some more serious stuff though, last time you spoke to BLUNT, you’d been sober for just over a year. How are things going for you now?
They’re going pretty good, I’ve just started a new project and me and the dudes from that project have just got a house. We’re just moving forward, we feel pretty good about everything that’s happening, and I know I feel good about everything I’ve done to keep my head on straight, so everything’s good for me and the people I’m working with.

I understand that you recently had some accusations from an ex-girlfriend that you’d started using drugs again, and you set out to publicly prove that wrong. Can you tell me a little bit about what went on that day?
Well I woke up and had a bunch of text messages from my manager and stuff. I’ve been dealing with her for the past two months and we weren’t trying to shed a bunch of light on the situation but she’d been going off publicly and I’m over it. So I told her, ‘I have nothing for you, I’m not giving you anything, I don’t wanna be with you anymore’ so I pretty much took my stuff and moved out. Then I kind of woke up and saw what she posted, this video she had, and it was complete bullshit, you could tell it was an old video. So I went and took a drug test on camera to show everybody up, because I’m not using.

On your last EP you had some feature vocals from some fans who contributed to your IndieGoGo campaign – how did that go down?
Well yeah, there was a perk in the campaign to pay an amount to have the chance to be on a song with me, and two people paid for that, so I wrote a song and did my vocals, and then I discussed with each person about the part they would be doing and what kind of stuff they could do with it, because it was their part. They had the option to come in and do it with me or to do their own studio time, and they chose to do it on their own studio time. And so yeah they did their own parts and we mixed it and I think it sounded great, I enjoyed it. I don’t know if they were trained singers, I think one of them maybe has a bit of a music career going, but really they were just fans who wanted the chance to be on a song with me and I thought that was cool and I wanted them to have the creativity to do what they wanted to do and feel like they contributed something themselves.

So what can you tell us about your new band Slaves?
The album’s gonna be out on June 22 and it’s 11 or 12 songs, a full CD, Alex [Lyman, guitar] wrote the music, I wrote the lyrics, all the vocal harmonies and stuff, and we got together and put our hearts into it. I think it’s definitely the best thing I have put out to date. Personally I think it’s the best of both worlds, it’s got a bit of a Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa feel to it, so people who wanted to see me working in those bands again might be pretty satisfied with what they’re gonna hear.

It seems a lot more rock oriented than your last record which had a strong R’n’B feel.
Well I want to make sure that doing a solo album is separated from being in a full band. On a solo album I want it to be focused on me solely, but when I do an album with a band I want it to be about everyone in the band, and I think a lot of people have been waiting for that, they like EPs and they like my solo stuff but they want to see me in a band again, and I think this is the right time to ease back into it and I picked the perfect people to do it with and we made the perfect album so I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

Do you have any plans to do another solo album in the future?
Yeah, I am doing another solo album, it’s in the works right now, it’s pretty much halfway done. It’s a full-length album, but it’s gonna be more of the style of the EPs with me and my vocals being the main focus. It’s gonna be good man, we recorded a couple of songs before we started the Slaves stuff.

How did you and the rest of the members of Slaves come together? What was it that made you want to work with those particular guys?
Alex and Chris [Kim, guitar] were both in a band called Hearts And Hands and it wasn’t going very well, and they were on my last solo headliner so I met them that way. Me and Alex discussed getting together for an album. He was going to stay in his band and I was going to still focus on my solo stuff, we weren’t going to make it a big thing, but it ended up turning out to be a bigger thing than we thought right off the bat, getting a lot of support from people who wanted to work with us, so it’s been really great! The other members, we kind of just handpicked them ourselves.

What was it like returning to working in a band setting after having done solo work for a while?
It didn’t feel weird to me, it felt very natural, I’ve gone through a lot of bands and my whole career has been singing in bands, so it felt natural to be back in there singing over a very full band sound.

You said a while back that you had found the writing process for your first EP quite difficult as it was the first time you’d written while sober. Now that you’ve learned to write in that headspace was it easier this time around?
Yeah, it just has a lot to do with focus. When I was going in there fucked up all the time and with hangovers and stuff, it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t good, it just was what it was, but now the fact that I can come in the studio and actually focus 100 percent just makes all the difference, at least for me, and I think you can really tell that in the sound of the music.

It hasn’t been very long at all since you toured here in Australia in July last year! What is it that’s kept you coming back?
I just love the girls over there dude, that’s it. I gotta keep coming back for the girls. It’s the accent man, and they’re hot as fuck. But in all honesty, you guys just appreciate music and I feel that when I’m on stage, and that’s why I love going to Australia and England because I feel there’s more of an appreciation of music there.

Jonny Craig / This Wild Life / Kyle Lucas / Red Beard Tour Dates

Sun May 11th – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle (18+)
Wed May 14th – Amplifier Bar, Perth (18+)*
Thu May 15th – HQ, Leederville*
Fri May 16th – Fowlers Live, Adelaide
Sat May 17th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Sun May 18th – Wrangler Studios, Melbourne
* Red Beard not appearing 

 

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